HTC One XL review

Extra large and extra fast

Just like the One X, only faster

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Thanks to an update on Christmas Eve, the One XL is now running on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. This includes an updated version of HTC's Sense skin to Sense 4+, allowing for better performance, and a more streamlined UI.

The update to Jelly Bean brings with it the benefits of things like Google Now, Project Butter and an improved keyboard, while HTC's own Sense software has a few performance tweaks within the camera and a new eco mode to help battery performance.

HTC One XL review

Those differences aside, the One XL still feels very much like an HTC Android device. The Sense screen offers a maximum of seven home screens which can be swiped through from left to right or right to left, with a pinch on screen pulling out to view all the available screens.

Sliding between homescreens feels lightning fast and effortless, and obviously benefits from Google's Project Butter. Despite the fact that the One XL has dropped the One X's quad-core processor for a dual-core, there's no lack of speed when it comes to navigating around the device.

The only real slow down comes when sorting through the recently used apps using the "recent apps" soft button on the device. Unlike other Android devices, HTC has its own implementation that shows an image of the app that can be scrolled through, kind of like Apple's cover flow concept.

But because it is only showing an image of the app, it takes the phone a couple of seconds to actually launch into the app once selected. It's not a long wait, but it is noticeable given the rapid response of the rest of the handset.

You can use this feature to stop running apps as well by swiping them upwards.

Like the Ice Cream Sandwich build, it's also possible to customise the "recent apps" soft button to function like the old menu button in previous Android builds, which is especially useful for legacy apps. The ability to long press the button for a different function is a clever implementation from HTC.

HTC One XL review

The notifications bar is a bland affair, with a shortcut to the settings menu, the time and date and an option to switch the new eco mode on or off. There are no shortcuts to adjust Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or mobile data in the notifications bar, with these toggles instead appearing as widgets on the home screen.

The lock screen is the same, simple ring dragging mechanism of the One X. By dragging the unlock ring over one of four customisable app icons, like your phone, text messages, email and camera. If you have any missed calls or messages, you can unlock directly to them as well.

You can also personalise the information on the lock screen so you can have immediate access to information without having to unlock the device. It's extremely convenient, but does a bit of damage to the battery life.

There's always going to be a fair amount of subjectivity when it comes to the performance and style of an Android skin, but we still think that HTC Sense is easily the most attractive and functional of the third party options.

Having spent the past decade editing some of Australia's leading technology publications, Nick's passion for the latest gadgetry is matched only by his love of watching Australia beat England in the rugby.